The winner was notching his second success of the campaign and, although the handicapper has upped Rock Gone by a further 2lb since that outing he looks the safest bet in a race with plenty of question marks. Dr Richard Newland is a past master at bringing on a horse like this from a first run to a second and the "bounce" factor is not fancied to intervene on his chance over what looks his optimum trip and on ground that should be ideal.
Spice Fair has been a model of consistency and can make his presence felt, while Olofi would be a danger to all on some of his old form.
In the circumstances, it may be worth giving UPSILON BLEU another chance over his perfect trip and on ground that should suit him infinitely better than quagmire that he had to encounter on his last start at Wetherby. Pauline Robson’s eight-year-old has been shown some leniency by the handicapper since that lacklustre effort and been dropped 4lb to a mark of 140. He hasn’t found the consistency of his past few season just yet but he won the Castleford Chase by three-quarters of a length from French Opera off a mark of 143 and was rated as high as 150 when runner-up to Mr Mole in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February of last year. He was sent off 7-2 joint favourite for his last start and James Reveley, who has ridden him in five of his last eight starts, remains loyal today.
Following a highly satisfactory return when beaten only a neck by Salubrious in a Graduation Chase at Carlisle in November, he was pulled up when 5-1 favourite for the Rehearsal Chase won by Wakanda at Newcastle later in the month. There was another incomplete in the Welsh National at Chepstow won by Mountainous but he was back on the ball when finishing a respectable third to Chase The Spud over three mile in heavy ground at Exeter 20 days ago and, with that confidence booster under his belt, he could well be ready to resume winning ways.
The danger could be topweight Zeroeshadesofgrey who boasts winning form over course and distance in December.
The danger may well be the aforementioned horses stablemate Saint Charles who is himself coming back after a long layoff but chased home this season’s staying hurdle sensation Thistlecrack over two miles at Ascot when last seen out in February of last year.
Probable chief rival The Organist didn’t appear to enjoy a war of attrition when beaten six lengths by Tara Girl when odds-on over two miles at Leicester last time, and she could be dealt a similar blow here.
Sametagal had previous run leading Cheltenham Festival hope More Of That at Cheltenham in December and he could strike another blow for the younger division in this Graded Handicap Chase.
Chief rival could well be stablemate Art Mauresque who has run well in top handicap company over this trip.
I would have been very interested in Coologue had Charlie Longsdon allowed his seven-year-old to come here instead of taking the easier looking option of yesterday’s novices’ Chase and he could well provide the danger with Drop Out Joe. The eight-year-old is bidding for a hat-trick after wins at Chepstow and Wincanton in the Autumn and is well versed in the necessities of these competitive handicap chases.